It’s only Summer League, it was just the first game. Now that the disclaimer has been shared, let’s talk about what Kelly Oubre Jr. and Aaron White did for the Wizards in their loss to the Phoenix Suns 86-77. Again, these are just observations. While Summer League is a huge difference from actual NBA play, there are things that can be taken away or translated from that type of game. It’s typically far more sloppy than the regular season product we’re accustomed to watching, but it is a big enough difference from the collegiate level that rookies often take a game or two to get acclimated.
Oubre finished the game with 20 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals and a blocked shot. He struggled with his shot as a whole, from beyond the arc, the charity stripe and in between on his way to shooting 8-20 from the floor. It’s easy to look at that shooting performance and walk away thinking this kid is years away from contributing on the offensive end, but that’s not the case.
As stated earlier it’s just Summer League, but it’s clear that Oubre belongs on an NBA court with NBA players. He’s come as advertised as a very fluid athlete, every movement looks effortless. What will make Oubre special is his effort, the kid didn’t quit playing hard on both ends just because his shot wasn’t falling. On the defensive end, Oubre is capable of guarding NBA players now, not saying he’s ready to guard the best in the league but the kid has the good on that side of the floor and it’s already apparent. Several times he overwhelmed ball handlers into picking up their dribble or making bad decisions. He’s literally all arms and legs in that regard, his long limbs work in conjunction with is quick feet and didn’t looked out of place or overmatched once.
As for the offensive end, he showed that he could possibly become effective as a slasher. Several times he glided to the basket with ease, he’ll have to work on finishing at this level but he has the length to make that happen. While he shot terribly (1-7 from deep), his stroke isn’t broken. It’ll be interesting to see as he relaxes and gets comfortable shooting the ball, has a really nice stroke. With multiple analysts and pundits alike saying that Oubre would be a project and not ready for 2-3 years, I disagree strongly. He may not reach full potential for a few years, but he’s fully capable of playing a 3-and-D role in his early years.
Lastly, Oubre’s confidence and effort will be welcomed. It may even rub off on his teammates, he said in a recent interview that he looks forward to ‘pushing his teammates’ and that’s a great mindset to have. While no one knows how big a role he’ll play for the Wizards in year one, he’s definitely worth keeping an eye on for the remainder of Vegas Summer League.
Aaron White had just four points and four rebounds, easy to overlook if just reading the box score. Like Oubre, his effort really stood out. Two plays in particular will stay with anyone that watched this game. He had a very nice put-back slam off a missed three pointer, he came flying in from virtually off camera. Showing some athleticism and understanding of angles on his pursuit to the ball. In the fourth quarter, a teammate missed a long shot and White pursued the rebound. He couldn’t grab it with two hands, so he got one paw on it and flicked it back out towards Oubre. Kelly grabbed the ball and attacked the rim, getting fouled while hitting a layup.
On draft day many fans and pundits assumed that White would be headed overseas this season as there is no room on the roster for him, again I disagree. There are multiple reports stating that the Wizards are in the market for a stretch four. Instead of looking outside the organization, why not give the kid a chance? That effort is infectious and he fits the bill of a stretch four in size and game. He didn’t show his outside touch in this game, but similar to Oubre, it just gives folks more reason to watch the rest of the Wizards games in Vegas.